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Auction Season: Artists request a share of profits made from their work

Accélérateur chromatique 90 by Claude Tousignant

Tuesday, November 20th, 2012 – Thirty-six living Canadian artists will see their work go up for auction in the next few days. Many of the artworks have increased in value over time but these profits are not currently shared with the artists. The Canadian and Quebec associations of visual artists (CARFAC & RAAV) have requested that government address this discrepancy by adding the Artist’s Resale Right to the Canadian Copyright Act as has been done in at least 67 other countries.

Were it to become legislation, the Artist Resale Right would entitle artists to receive 5% from subsequent public sales of their work through auction houses and commercial galleries. It is common for visual art to appreciate in value over time, as the reputation of the artist grows.

For example, the piece Two by Toronto artist, Michael Snow, is expected to sell for between $35,000 and $45,000 at Waddington’s on Monday. Last fall, two of his pieces sold for a total of $175,500. If Canada had an Artist’s Resale Right of 5%, Snow would have received $8775.

“The idea of the Artists Resale Right is a good one,” said Snow. “People should be sympathetic to this.”

Montreal artist, Claude Tousignant’s, piece Accélérateur chromatique 90 is expected to sell for between $50,000 and $70,000 at Sotheby’s next Tuesday. If Canada had an Artist’s Resale Right of 5%, he would have been likely to receive approximately $3500.

“An artist who works for several years will certainly see his work increase in value.” said Tousignant. “Why not profit from that?”

In October, representatives from auction houses and the Art Dealers Association met with artists in Toronto to discuss how the Artist’s Resale Right would work in Canada. Several suggestions were made – which CARFAC and RAAV are considering incorporating into their proposal.

“Collectors love art and they love the people who make art – many of them are there right from the beginning,” said Linda Rodeck from Sotheby’s auction house. “The appearance of fairness is important and my clients want to ensure the Artist’s Resale Right would be fair to them as well.”

“Waddington’s priority is maintaining a fair, transparent and growing market place that benefits all participants,” said Waddington’s President, Duncan McLean.

CARFAC and RAAV continue to meet with members of Parliament in an effort to have the Artist’s Resale Right added to the Copyright Act. The reception has been positive but they are still waiting for a commitment on the part of the government.

Help Bring the Artist’s Resale Right to Canada